Aged care is a challenging career.
On a personal basis, the problems are to do with inferior wages but more importantly, the tack of recognition from other nursing colleagues. I recognise that aged care is a lifestyle choice for many registered nurses (RNs) who no Longer want to do shift work. This was a motivating factor for me, but I was primarily attracted to aged care because my own parents became elderly and unwell. I used to think, as many RNs stilt do, that geriatric nursing was something you did when you couldn't cope with acute care anymore and you wanted an easier life. However, when my parents needed care themselves, I realised I wanted them to be Looked after by "good" nurses, not people just fitting in time before retirement. After two years as an RN in aged care, I have found it far more challenging than I ever expected.
Currently, I work as an RN in a fairly Large rest home (around 75 residents when full). There is another part-time RN. However, we have been unable to recruit another part-time RN, despite extensive advertising. I do get tired of being Looked down on by the public hospital workforce. I am continually faced with decisions and assessments that don't happen in acute care. If a resident is unwell and no doctor is calling that day, do I phone the doctor, wait and see if non-specific problems get better or worse over the day or do I send the resident to the emergency department for a Long wait and a rate return with no diagnosis? I am expected to know a Lit[re about all specialities. This is a challenge in itself as people coming into rest-home care in 2005 are more frail and dependent than they were ten years ago.
Nursing roles in aged care usually involve infection control medication audits and competencies, wound care expertise, pain control reassessments for higher levels of care etc, besides being available to families who want information, advice and emotional support. This is all on top of encouraging the frail elderly that "old age is an okay place to be" and trying to give them quality of life. I do applaud the caregivers in this sector, who, despite little nursing knowledge, do give their best in an undervalued industry.
Aged care can be a rewarding place to work. However, the industry is always going to struggle to attract quality staff white it is seen as an inferior career choice. Wages are only part of the answer.
Karen Necklen, RN
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|Title Annotation:||response to a recent article by NZNO policy analyst Eileen Brown, "Budget fairs aged-care workers and older people" (Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand, June 2005, p29),|
|Publication:||Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand|
|Article Type:||Letter to the Editor|
|Date:||Aug 1, 2005|
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